Put you in the Christmas Spirit
By Iride Aparicio

"THE TAFFETAS" L-R  Lindsay Sommers as Donna &  Melissa Gialdini as Cheryl (Standing) Brennah Kemmerly as Peggy and Elizabeth Neff as Kaye (front of picture)

Photos by: Edmond Kivong/Image Wurx

SILICON VALLEY , CA -- Written and arranged by RICK  LEWIS,   "A TAFFETA CHRISTMAS," may be  described as a musical confection of  holiday classics, pop standards and Rock'roll,  sung  in four-part harmony  or as solos, in the  voices of  four  marvelous singers: ELIZABETH NEFF (Kaye) BRENNAH  KEMMERLY (Peggy) MELISSA GIALDINE (Cheryl) and LINDSAY SOMMERS  (Donna)

The set of the musical is Holiday Hometown  Hoedown  and the action takes place in a television studio, as a  program that is being  broadcast live  from the Muncie Moose Lodge on December 24, l959,  with TIM REYNOLDS as  Television Announcer and Host.  
The stars of the show are  "The Taffetas," four young singers, who  tell their audience that their singing group got its name from their cousin Warren, who also designed their taffeta dresses. Taffeta is  a crisp smooth plain woven fabric, with a slight sheen, that in the fifties was used as the material for women's formal attire.

In the show, the group represent a four sisters singing group,  (like the Lennon Sisters from the Lawrence Welk Television Show)  who are coming back to their hometown this Christmas  and have their friends and even their parents sitting in the audience.

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What makes this singing show special, however are the voices of the four singers. Each tone is different and every tone is  full, and, when they sing, it flows as smoothly as water from a waterfall. Their enunciation of the songs' lyrics is is perfect and each of the singers know how to interpret her songs. Their volume is strong so the audience can hear them, clearly, as they move singing around the theatre without a microphone.

The arrangements or their numbers (LEWIS) are creative. Some of their songs are sung in harmony by the four together, others by one singer alone as the other three sing in the background.  Some  songs even include a little dancing. The Genre of their singing repertoire  is broad and it may change  from song to song, so watching the show is highly entertaining.
Some songs  may also include a little "acting" on the girls part. A  favorite on Sunday's afternoon was  "How Much is that  dog in the Window?" Which the girls sang  using  a barking puppet as prop. (pictured above) It got lots of applause.

But because  A TAFFETA CHRISTMAS represents a television show which is being broadcast (on television) on  Christmas  Eve  at the television's studio, the stage is decorated with a lighted Christmas tree,with gifts under it, and the beige color drapes around the stage are illuminated wit red and green lights, to put the television audience in the studio in the Christmas mood. (TV was black and white at that time).

 The orchestra, which played the music seamlessly, was also playing on the stage. It  included CATHERINE SNIDER at the piano, TIM ROBERTS at the guitar, ALONSO SANCHEZ as the Bass, and BRUCE CAMPBELL at  the drums.

The  program on that afternoon included  classic hits of the fifties such as Mr. Sandman,  (sang as  Mr. Santa) in a wonderful  arrangement, Meli Kalikimaka (A Hawaian way to wish Merry Christmas) Jingle Bells, "Its beginning  to look like Christmas" and a very funny version of  " I saw mother Kissing Santa Claus" to name some.  The funniest  number  in this part of the show, however,  was when  Warren (the girls' cousin who designed their dresses) who happened to be sitting in the studio's audience on that night,  is invited by the girls to come to the stage and sing with them.  The actor who played the role of Warren was so funny simulating to be shy as he danced with the girls repeating his one line lyric, that he had the audience roaring with laughter. (his name was not printed in the program).

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The  second part of the program was short.  It follow the same pattern as the first part but did not have as many songs because in this part the TAFFETAS are allowed to speak to their studio audience simulating to be answering questions that the audience had written to them in cards that are handled to them at random from a basket carried on the stage by the "host"   

As they answer some of the questions,  we learn beats and pieces about  their lives, their family and even about their favorite movie stars. The funniest song in this part of the program was "All I want for Christmas are my two front teeth"  and one of the most beautiful in sound, a harmonized version of "White Christmas"  which the girls sang wearing elegant red velvet long capes ornamented with white fur.

The music of , "A TAFETTA CHRISTMAS"  brings you back to the years when music was harmonized and had a beautiful sound.  The show is so entertaining that even the small kids in the audience were enjoying it. It is one of those shows that we need to see during the holidays,  to get into the Christmas spirit,   

L-T Brennah Kemmerly, as Peggy, Melissa Gialdini as Cheryl, Elizabeth Neff  as Kaye and  Lindsay Sommers as Donna.

"A TAFETTA CHRISTMAS" will continue playing at THE TABARD THEATRE COMPANY 29 N. San Pedro Street Downtown San Jose until December 22. For information or to order tickets call (408)679-2330 or go online to www.tabardtheatre.org.